The Great Namibian Safari

The intensity of our adventure began before we even knew it. Traveling from Toronto into the heart of the Namibian bush took us through London, Johannesburg, Windhoek, and finally, an exceedingly long dirt road to round out the 46-hour journey. Upon arrival, we were over-exhausted and worn out from our two days of travel but were very conscious about how limited our time was out there. If we were to take full advantage of the experience, we could let no moments go to waste. Despite the sun beginning to set, we proceeded immediately to the shooting range; nothing more than a small strip of land cleared of shrubbery and a medium-sized cardboard box, brandished with paper bulls-eye targets. We got comfortable with a .308 Win long-distance rifle from various positions and different vantage points. As we settled in for the evening, our first dinner consisted of some of the tastiest boerewors (popular South African sausage) we had ever tasted, as well as lamb ribs and potato-based side dishes. In some respect, this trip was just as much about the carnivorous culinary experience as it was about the hunting itself.

For our first morning on the hunt, we woke up early and eager. We rode in the back of a Ford Ranger pick-up, with wooden 2x4s attached as seats. We took turns at the helm, alternating with the rifle as we traversed through different areas of the 18,500-acre farm. Our first encounter was with a grazing gemsbok (also known as an Oryx) about 60m away. The shot was exceptionally accurate, minimizing the spoilage of meat from the bullet entry point. We brought the animal back to the farm, where the meat was prepared for consumption later in the evening. In the area where we hunted, no morsel of food went to waste. We consumed the majority of the meat from the animal ourselves, with the remainder being used to feed the staff on the farm or sold to a local butcher. Watching the animal be skinned and split was an experience on its own and gave us some real insight into the concept of farm-to-table sustainable hunting. At sundown, the grazing animals seemed to be a bit more lackadaisical in their consumption habits, and were not as alert to the distant noises that our Ford made as we barreled on through the bush. We continued to hunt warthog and gemsbok throughout the week, preparing a sufficient amount of meat to keep our stomachs satisfied.

On most days, for brunch, we would enjoy locally-produced breads, cheeses, and butters from the farm, complemented by an abundance of different meats, prepared via an on-site cold-smoker the size of a small bedroom and cut into carpaccio-style slices. Our dinners consisted of different local variations of the typical charcoal barbecue we are used to back home and always utilized the fruits of our labour. In typical Namibian fashion, one evening, our hosts prepared us a sausage-style appetizer called a ‘Pofadder’, which consisted of one of our gemsbok’s liver, heart, and kidneys, cured and wrapped up into the colon and marinated before being grilled over the fire until crispy. On our final morning, we were treated to ostrich scrambled eggs, which proved to be a gamier, tastier version of the breakfast staple.

It’s a very different lifestyle when you’re in the bush. You hunt to eat, you drink to stay warm, and you value every moment that can share with your friends and family. We spent 8 of the most unforgettable days together in the Namibian bush. Through dust and harsh desert conditions, it was a true bonding experience and one that I am certain we won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

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